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Feb 25, 2016 10:10 PM

Steinhauser: In NH1 News intv, Hassan challenges Ayotte to direct negotiations over Peoples Pledge

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – For the first time this week, Gov. Maggie Hassan called on Kelly Ayotte to negotiate over a pledge the Republican senator first offered to try and dramatically limit the infusion of big bucks from outside groups in New Hampshire’s high profile U.S. Senate race.

The Democratic governor, who’s challenging the Republican incumbent rather than run for a third-term in the Corner Office, made her news Thursday morning in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News.

“I would look forward to sitting down with Sen. Ayotte or having our campaigns sit down together to see if we can come to an agreement that would allow us to keep outside money out but also have a reasonable spending cap,” Hassan told NH1 News.

Ayotte two weeks ago first challenged Hassan to sign the Peoples Pledge, which is based on the 2012 agreement between then Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. It would require either candidate that benefits from third-party spending (from Super PACs, 501c4 groups, and other outside organizations) to folk over 50% of the cost of that ad buy to a charity of the opponent’s choosing.

Hassan’s campaign responded to Ayotte’s offer a day later with what they called a “Strengthened New Hampshire Peoples Pledge” which would limit each campaign to a $15 million spending cap.

“What I did in response to her initial offer was to strengthen the pledge that she suggested,” Hassan told NH1 News on Thursday. “I strengthened the Peoples Pledge with a spending cap because it's not just outside money, it's too much money coming into our politics and really getting in the way of the candidates and the people of New Hampshire."

Hassan also touted her efforts on the issue of keeping outside money out of campaigns, saying “I have long stood for campaign finance reform. Right after Citizens United was decided in 2010, I brought forward legislation in the state Senate to try to force disclosure on this dark outside money that’s come into our state and is really polluting our campaigns and politics here.”

Hassan then criticized Ayotte, saying “I continue to believe strongly that Citizens United is wrong for our country and as a United States senator I would vote to overturn it, something that Sen. Ayotte has said she won’t do. She supports Citizens United. She supports the notion that these outside groups can come to state and flood the state with money.”

In an NH1 News interview earlier this week, Ayotte took aim at the governor, saying “unfortunately Gov. Hassan clearly doesn’t want to keep third party special interests spending out of this race.”

“I think the Peoples Pledge, something that came into effect in the Massachusetts Senate race in 2012 was also offered by Sen. Shaheen when she ran for re-election. We know it works in reducing third party spending and unfortunately she’s interjected issues that don’t have anything to do with third party spending so clearly I think that’s politician speak for ‘I don’t want to keep this money out and I don’t want to sign this pledge’ unfortunately,” Ayotte added.

“If Governor Hassan were serious she'd sign the People’s Pledge, just like Elizabeth Warren and Jeanne Shaheen did,” added Ayotte re-election campaign manager Jon Kohan in a statement Thursday.

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